WHY PEOPLE BUY by John O'Shaughnessy


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O'Shaughnessey (Columbia/Graduate Business) here provides marketing strategists with fresh if structured approaches to fathoming and capitalizing on consumer behavior. Successful application of his precepts appears to require as much art as science, however, and even hardened pros may be offput by his relentless recourse to jargon. Within limits, he argues, consumers are open to persuasion right up to the moment of purchase. There's a catch, however: marketing executives must ""listen"" to their patrons and prospects. Among the more effective means to this end, in the author's book, are so-called protocol statements. Not too surprisingly, the text abounds in such first-person testimony--essentially, before-during-and-after interviews with consumers. In the event, the author concludes that managers can evaluate anecdotal evidence of this sort in the context of master plans and statistical data to plot a potentially advantageous marketing course. Owing to variables in the consumer equation, interpretive analysis is not the whole story. According to the author, there's good news and bad news in this connection. The good is that buyers do not act irrationally; their behavior, in fact, follows certain rules. The bad is that consumers do not invariably decide what product or brand to buy. Nonetheless, the author identifies and explains a half-dozen selection criteria (adaptive, economic, technical, et al.) that can influence buying decisions. Again, though, there are caveats, e.g., that choices may be based on objective considerations or subjective preferences. In brief, then, a systematic theory, of interest mainly to merchandising specialists.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1987
ISBN: 0195040872
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press